U.S. stock index futures were little changed on Monday ahead of data on new home sales, following the best three-week period on the S&P 500 Index in almost a year.
S&P futures hovered around 1,100, a key level broken by the benchmark on Friday for the first time in a month. Some technical measures of both the S&P 500 and S&P futures are sending bullish signals, but charts also show further resistance roughly 1 percent above current levels. Recent economic data has also cut into the positive sentiment.
BP Plc was up 2.7 percent in premarket trading as the British oil giant is expected to install an American troubleshooter as chief executive in the next 24 hours, replacing Tony Hayward, who has come under fire for his handling of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Investors will eye the U.S. Commerce Department's new home sales data for June, at 10 a.m. ET. Economists in a Reuters survey forecast a total of 320,000 annualized units in June compared with 300,000 in May.
Last month (home sales) data was down rather sharply, and we could get a bit of a surprise, said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Avalon Partners in New York. Data might actually be on the positive side while still obviously indicating a weak housing market.
Cardillo said if economic numbers this week fall roughly in line with market expectations, that might set the stage for the market to focus on the fact the sour numbers we've seen are reflecting a soft patch and probably the economy will pick up steam.
S&P 500 futures fell 2 points and were about even with fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures lost 9 points and Nasdaq 100 futures shed 4.25 points.
Pharmaceutical stocks will be in the spotlight. The Wall Street Journal said Britain's GlaxoSmithKline Plc had recently made a very casual approach, to Genzyme Corp but industry insiders and analysts said Glaxo's chief executive was unlikely to pursue a deal. U.S.-traded Glaxo shares dipped 1.4 percent to $35.99 premarket, and Genzyme added 4 percent to $65 in light volume.
Sources familiar with the matter said on Friday that Sanofi-Aventis was sounding out Genzyme, prompting a 15 percent jump in the U.S. biotech company's market value to $16.7 billion.
Legg Mason Inc, Fluor Corp., Masco Corp, Plum Creek Timber Co Inc and Range Resources Corp are due to report results on Monday.
U.S. stocks rose on Friday as General Electric Cos dividend increase boosted investor sentiment. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 102.32 points, or 0.99 percent, to 10,424.62, and The Nasdaq Composite Index added 23.58 points, or 1.05 percent, to 2,269.47.
The S&P 500 rose 8.99 points, or 0.82 percent, to 1,102.66, closing above the key 1,100 level for the first time in a month after coming close but failing four times in July.